We’re still saying ‘no’ to West Sands centre

Community councillors don't want to see the proposed visitor centre at West Sands.
Community councillors don't want to see the proposed visitor centre at West Sands.

St Andrews Community Council has fired another salvo in its continued opposition to plans for a visitor centre at West Sands, in a submission to the Scottish Government reporter who is now considering the application.

Fife Coast and Countryside Trust (FCCT) was refused planning permission for the controversial building, which would replace an existing cafe and toilets, by Fife Council, but has now appealed to the Scottish Government.

Now the community council has re-entered the debate in a lengthy letter to the government Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA), stating the council continues to object to the development and any ruling by the DPEA to overturn Fife Council’s decision.

While recognising the need for the new facilities, the community council submission says it should be possible to provide them without contravening existing planning policies, criticising the design of the visitor centre and associated facilities, the lack of parking facilities in the plans, and asserting that the West Sands area has undergone considerable ‘urbanisation’ in the last decade.

“Planning applications have to be determined in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

“It is hoped that, in this case, accordance with the development plan will be the most important factor,” the council continues.

“‘Need’ is not normally a material consideration and it is believed that, had the Trust focused on the basic requirements of its application and the needs of visitors, it might by now have planning permission,” the community council concludes.

The community council also attacks FCCT, which it describes as: “Effectively a Fife Council clone, a number of those running it being made up of Fife councillors and officials (past and present). Effectively, a council trust is applying to Fife Council for planning permission.”

A decision on the appeal by DPEA is expected late next month.